Advisers have an important decision to make as they approach retirement: Do they want a complete break from their firm, or do they want to maintain a presence?

Health, finances and desire for work can determine the answer.

Steve Veesart, 63, founder of Veesart Financial in Memphis, Tennessee, decided a few years ago that with enough money in the bank, he was going to pull back.

“I value my time now more than money,” he says.

Veesart is down to working two days a week, spending the rest of his time playing golf, exercising, traveling, and doing volunteer and yard work, if it doesn’t involve mowing grass.

But he has no plans to sever ties with his firm.

“You want clients to feel as little change as possible,” Veesart says.

“When your name is on the wall and you have clients with you your entire career, you miss it,” Veesart says. “I still enjoy connecting with clients and think I can help Lindsey [Donovan, his successor], but I don’t want to sign documents anymore.”

For John Ueleke, 69, a CFP and the founder of Legacy Wealth Management in Memphis, Tennessee, the scenario is a bit different.

“More than 20 years ago, I had a life-threatening sarcoma and didn’t expect to survive, so I had a great appreciation for life,” he says.

Then after years of good health, Ueleke was diagnosed with a rare form of melanoma in 2009, so his firm set up a succession plan. He planned to work for six more years at a slower pace, but then he had a recurrence of the melanoma in December 2012 and decided that was it.

On Ueleke’s way home from the cancer center, “I called my main partner and said I want to exercise my disability option and get out, with the company buying my remaining shares,” he says. “That allowed me to step out completely, a couple years ahead of plan.”

And it has worked out well.

“I haven’t looked back for one minute, and the company hasn’t lost one step,” Ueleke says. “Clients got used to working with someone else.”

Ueleke spends his time traveling, hunting, tending to his farm, teaching Sunday school and working with charities.

The decision is different for each individual and firm, he says.

“But my belief is that unless you need and desire to stay, you’re better off to step away completely,” Ueleke says. “It helps you move on to the next stage of life and allows the people running the firm to make decisions without worrying about being second-guessed.”

This story is part of a 30-30 series on smarter succession planning.

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Dan Weil

Dan Weil’s work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Institutional Investor and Tennis magazine.